NEW YORK –- J.J. Hardy may return to the Orioles on Thursday, and Buck Showalter can’t wait to see him play shortstop again.
After the Orioles’ 5-1 loss to the New York Mets before 21,667 at Citi Field at Wednesday night, Showalter indicated he wasn’t pleased with what he saw on the field.
“There are some things in the middle of the diamond we’re not doing very well. Defensively, we’ve got to get better,” Showalter said.
Hardy went 4-for-12 in three rehab games at Bowie, and presumably he’ll be at Yankee Stadium on Thursday when the Orioles begin a four-game series with the Yankees.
In their first 25 games without Hardy who’s been missing with a left shoulder injury, the Orioles are 12-13, and clearly Showalter wasn’t pleased with the play of Everth Cabrera. He’s started 22 of the 25 games.
Ryan Flaherty, who’s also on the disabled list with a groin strain, and is eligible to return on Friday, started the other two.
But, it’s Hardy, who Showalter has likened to a point guard, who’s been needed.
“J.J. is a huge part of this team. He’s an anchor, he swings the bat really well. But I think more importantly he’s a great clubhouse guy, he’s been through the battles and is a great guy to just play ball with,” Caleb Joseph said.
“We’ve been looking forward to getting him back since the day he was injured. So, it’s exciting but we are not going to put the world on J.J. We are just excited to have him back in the clubhouse.”
Cabrera and Jimmy Paredes missed a grounder up the middle by Dilson Herrera that drove in the first run in the second.
The Orioles scored just three runs in two games against New York (18-10). They had 12 baserunners, but left 10 of them on.
“We haven’t done much offensively in two nights,” Showalter said.
In their last five games, the Orioles scored 11 runs and lost three of them.
“It just seems like every time we get a start that keeps us within the game, we just can't push that big hit across,” Joseph said.
The only Orioles run came in the fifth on an RBI single by Paredes. The inning could have been bigger had Cabrera not been caught off third base.
Cabrera was on third with one out when Alejandro De Aza’s bunt was fielded by starting pitcher Jacob deGrom. deGrom threw to third, and Cabrera was tagged out. Had he slid back into third, he would have been safe, Showalter thought.
Paredes’ single drove in Travis Snider, and Adam Jones walked to load the bases, but Chris Davis struck out for the third time.
deGrom (3-3), last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, allowed one run on six hits in seven innings.
Ubaldo Jimenez (2-2) was lifted for Snider, who pinch hit for him in the fifth. Jimenez gave up three runs on six hits in four innings. He walked two, and one of them, Michael Cuddyer, scored the first run.
“It seems like every time you start walking people, you end up having to pay for that. They’re going to find a way to score. It doesn’t matter how it is. It’s like you know it’s going to score,” Jimenez said.
Curtis Granderson hit his second home run of the year to lead off the third. The Mets scored their third run in the fourth on three singles and a sacrifice fly by Granderson.
Brad Brach allowed a two-run home run to Herrera in the sixth. Originally, Herrera’s homer was ruled a double, but Mets manager Terry Collins got a crew chief review, and the ruling was quickly amended.
Showalter argued that the replay was shown on the scoreboard before the play was actually reviewed, and that a pinch hitter was in the batters box to hit for deGrom before the home run was awarded.
deGrom stayed in the game, and the Orioles lost for the eighth straight time to the Mets dating back to June 11, 2010. New York visits Oriole Park for two more games in August.
Jimenez’s relatively brief outing ended the Orioles’ streak of seven consecutive quality starts.
“Probably not quite the command that he’s spoiled us with so far this year. He was very close to being good. I’m proud of him. We just scored three runs in two nights. That’s what it comes down to,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Cabrera is in an 0-for-17 slump. … Manny Machado stole two bases for the first time in his career. …The Orioles are 1-10 when their opponent scores first. ... Chris Tillman (2-3, 6.23) faces Nathan Eovaldi (2-0, 3.81) as the Orioles begin a four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.
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